Living in Hanover

Living in Hanover

'Apparently a blog about living in Hanover'

Helping Out

All of the posts under the "Helping Out" category.

Thinking Isn’t Complaining

Recently, someone commented on another post that I complain a lot. I get that once in a while because anyone who has ever met me in person knows I come off crankier on the Internet than I am in real life.

While some may feel upset or bothered when someone totally mischaracterizes their personality, I actually love it. First of all, there’s the whole judging me without really knowing me thing. I try not to do it for others (not always successfully) and am amused when others do it to me. But more importantly, it’s the notion that complaining about things you have a problem with is inherently a bad thing. Lastly there is the notion that the comment can be seen as a complaint about someone complaining meaning that you are complaining so the three fingers are pointing back at you. Or some nonsense like that. I like complaining about complaining sometimes so I let that one go.

Just because I or anyone else complains does not make them bad, especially since a look at the sum total of the things I talk about would show lots of cheerleading (maybe too much), but most importantly, pragmatism. Sometimes I do complain, but sometimes it’s much deeper than that.

Sure, I criticize the borough manager for not being able to use Power Point correctly or for having a horrific website as the face of Hanover, but those are specific complaints with easy solutions in areas where I have professional experience. When you take the things you learn and try to apply them for positive effect to benefit others, how is that bad?

I thought about this a lot this morning as I read a Chronicle of Higher Education article called “What ‘Learning How to Think’ Really Means.” The article focuses on the positive effects of a liberal arts education. One clause in one sentence sentence does a perfect job of explaining my problems with the borough’s rush to push the Fire Museum into the old Eagle Fire Company, a move which curiously hit the fast track the day after the council president was slaughtered in the primary election.

People with intellectual virtues will be persistent, ask for help when they need it, provide help when others need it, and not settle for expedient but inaccurate solutions to tough problems.

I’m not going so far as to endow myself with the lofty gift of “intellectual virtues,” but I have been thinking a lot about college since I recently had my 25-year reunion at Allegheny College, a place where I really learned to think and judge and act (and party, to be honest).

During one conversation at the reunion, the topic of a minor came up. We were walking by the building that housed the Classics department. Since I took AP Latin in high school and received credit for my test score, the head of the department tried to recruit me as a Classics major. That wasn’t happening, so he also made a pitch for minoring in the field. I pretty much dismissed it out of hand, but ended up pretty close to actually pulling it off.

I had credit for two classes from the AP exam and could use my classes in Greek and Roman Art and Green and Roman Epics to get close to the six-class requirement for a minor. I may have had one other class, but the real stumbling block was the requirement of what Allegheny called a “seminar ” class for any minor. Seminars were fairly intensive classes that prepared people in a major for their senior thesis, nicknamed a “comp” at Allegheny. You took your seminar as a junior so you got a taste of what comping would feel like.

I ended up taking three seminars in my major, English. They each required a 25ish page page at the end of the trimester. By comparison, my comp was 60-some pages long. I took multiple English comps because that was my speciality, and they came up with some really, really awesome topics during my junior and senior year. But I was in no way, shape or form putting myself through the same thing in Classics. Or History or Communication Arts, two other departments I was close to minoring in.

This long explanation is my way of saying that my time at Allegheny taught me to seek out many different ways of approaching things. I took some classics, some comm arts, a bunch of history, a psych class, computer science, economics and even theatre appreciation (which I took mainly because it was one of the few things open when I did registration freshman year).

But I also wrestled for four years, worked on the campus newspaper, played and officiated intramural sports, was an officer in my fraternity and represented us on the Interfraternity Council. None of this counts the amount of time sitting around and talking with lots of other really smart people who were taking their own eclectic mix of courses because they, like me, just found it interesting to learn new stuff.

I guess that is why I shake my head when people try to pigeon hole my curiosity and outspokenness as complaining. I grew up with parents who expected their eight children to learn as much as they could and know how to think critically about the decisions they made. I had seven siblings who held me accountable for so many things. Then I had four years of reading and talking and questioning and taking action.

All of that has led to what some people want to characterize as “complaining.” I will never accept that as the truth. I don’t just throw out negativity. I take a look at what is happening, run it through the experiences I have had and the things I have learned and offer a perspective that others may not have considered. Sometimes that means the project you think is perfect may need new and varied voices and may need to take a little longer than you want it to be done (which you probably hate because if you do it now you won’t have to listen to anyone else because they don’t have your experience so they can’t be right).

A fire museum is a wonderful thing. Preserving history is a great virtue. Reusing classic buildings is an admirable goal. But to do it right, you need the intellectual virtues to know that it needs to take time, care and careful consideration with the voices of museum professionals, fundraising experts and unemotional onlookers to make sure that we aren’t trying to save history every seven or 10 years because we never took the time to plan and discuss things beyond seven to 10 years.

So if it’s complaining to expect a major project to have clearly defined goals and an articulated path to success, call me guilty. I just think I’m using the tools I learned in life.


Brian June 18, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

Communication is Hard

The problem with the Internet is that everyone thinks they can do it right. Making your own website has never been easier and cheaper. Anyone can get any message they want out to the public.

That doesn’t mean everyone can do it well. I’m looking at you, Hanover Borough.

I am not saying that I am the greatest communicator in the world, but I have been doing this for a living for a couple of decades and then some. You learn a few things in that time. I hope to pass some of those lessons onto the folks at the borough in 2016 since they don’t seem to want advice from people who aren’t on council at this point.

A perfect example is the home page right now. This screenshot was taken a little after 10 this morning.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 10.04.51Now I’m not saying the borough shouldn’t communicate news about how the fire (and why they capitalized fire, I don’t know, but that’s another fight for another day) at Miller Chemical, but when you throw it on the bottom of the page and do it in a way that makes the background image look a little funky and includes random capitalization and doesn’t include any context (I know the fire was a big deal, but you can’t assume everyone knows everything), you look like communication with the public is an afterthought.

The borough did a good job with letting people know to shelter-in-place after the fire happened, but this just smacks of “It’s not our problem. Stop bothering us.” When you don’t dedicate a space on our website to current news updates and just throw them on the home page when you feel you need to share info, that’s how you come off.


Brian June 11, 2015 3 Comments Permalink

Next Stop: Borough Council

I am happy to announce that I am running for a seat on Hanover Borough Council in the First Ward in the May 19 Republican primary. I am excited to partner with several other like-minded individuals in this election effort.

I strongly believe that the success of Hanover depends on much more than the 10 people sitting behind the council table. My primary goal in running for this seat is to bring transparency, positivity and diversity of opinion to the way the Hanover Borough operates.

Encouraging developments in recent months have proven that Hanover residents and business owners share a common vision of a vibrant downtown that will fuel a dynamic community beyond Center Square and even the borough limits. I hope you will support my First Ward election effort so I can help the borough government play a proactive and constructive role in this exciting time.

Also, I encourage those in other areas of the borough to support Dan Noble (Second Ward), Henry McLin (Third Ward), Scott Angel (Fourth Ward) and James Baumgardner (Fifth Ward) as we work together to benefit the Hanover Borough.

Brian March 11, 2015 8 Comments Permalink

Who’s Running in Hanover?

Yesterday marked the filing deadline for local elections. I would understate things if I called the results disappointing. School boards here, municipalities here.

Only two people filed to run for five open seats on Hanover’s school board. Borough council also saw only two people file for five available seats. Ben Adams will run unopposed for mayor. Penn Township will have folks running unopposed for two commissioner seats. South Western schools will have five unopposed candidates for their board. Manheim Township has two people running for one seat while six folks will run for two seats in West Manheim, not surprising there given they have had plenty of citizen involvement.

When the borough raised taxes, plenty of people complained and threatened action. Yet three wards have no candidate. To be honest, I considered running in the first ward, but already feel I have spread myself thin with other activities. This news means incumbents Heidi Hormel (a good friend and too often the long voice of dissent on council), John Connor (who filled a vacancy a year ago), Sonny Eline and Tom Hufnagle, Jr., have decided not to run.

We’ll hear a call about the problems with the school district again soon as the budget gets closer. I will probably disagree with some decisions, but know that they fiscally have few choices because of state issues. I do know Jared Reck, one of the candidates, and liked seeing his name listed for a seat. This means Rick Engle, Darlene Funnk, Jim Watson and Steve Edwards have decided not to run again.

But what about everyone else? Are you volunteering too many places already? Do you have to work a second job? Do you just talk a good game? With so many people saying what’s wrong about our community, why aren’t more stepping up to lead the way?

Hanover School Board Candidates

Four Four-Year Terms

Jared Reck, Karen Daubert (Republican)

One Unexpired Two-Year Term


Hanover Borough Candidates


Ben Adams (R)

Council, Ward 1

Gerald Funke (D)

Council, Ward 2

William Reichart (R)

Council, Ward 3


Council, Ward 4


Council, Ward 5


Brian March 13, 2013 2 Comments Permalink

Sweet Charity Indeed

When I recently sat down to dinner with Jane Rice and Nancy Leister (and Scott Roland, who graciously set up the meeting), I expected to learn about Sweet Charities, the local philanthropic group which they started 10 years ago and continue to administer.

I figured I would learn about the events they held and the people they helped and how an idea among friends has turned into more than $1 million to help local causes.

In the end, I did, but I also learned about them and their motivations and their passion for our area. Those things stuck with me the most because those traits have allowed Sweet Charities to have such a significant impact on Hanover for the past decade.

I first moved here in 1992 and started dating my wife that fall. As we got more serious, we talked about our future, where we would live, what kind of community we wanted to settle in. At first, we didn’t think we fit Hanover – we were young and had career aspirations.

But the closer we came to planting roots, the more the charms of the area grew on us. Not only did we have friends (and jobs) in Hanover, but we found our favorite places to eat, built memories around special events and found traditions we could embrace.

We also realized that the stereotype of Hanoverians giving the cold shoulder to anyone without a few generations in a local cemetery did not fit the mold. Maybe it was because we worked in the media and got to know lots of different people, but we discovered most people just wanted to help others make the most out of the Hanover experience.

That’s what I think Sweet Charities represents. Hanover has many, many, many kind and giving people. These two ladies – and two other friends – merely found a way to express that spirit ten years ago when they started the group. And they found that others had the same instinct and, before you knew it, ten years had passed and many lives were enriched.

The point that they do this without an office or administrative staff and with almost no overhead does sound incredibly impressive. But that almost seems like a no-brainer to them. Why would you staff an office and pay for supplies when you can do things yourself to help your neighbors? They seem as if the friendship and spirit of putting on the events buoys them as much as the people they help with the proceeds.

That’s the spirit that captured my wife and I when we decided to stay in Hanover. That’s the feeling I get when stuffing chicken barbecue bags for a fundraiser when I could be at home sleeping. That’s the rush I get when I know that something I did entertained people or helped someone have a better day.

The Hanover community has benefited in so many ways from Sweet Charities. I hope that one lasting gift which it bestows on all of us is the willingness to take some time out of our lives. Maybe we all can’t put together a group which raises as much money as this one, but we can all use our skills to make our town a better place.

Join a service club, volunteer for a fundraiser, support local charities. If you want to make Hanover a better place, every little bit counts. The story of Sweet Charities makes that quite clear because you never know how much good the next little idea can accomplish.

Brian October 24, 2012 Leave A Comment Permalink

Overture, Curtains, Lights!

Everything changed in a short conversation with George Matthew, the famed Mr. George from the library. He was directing “Miracle on 34th Street” at Hanover High School and had recruited elementary school children and their parents for some crowd scenes.

One night, George approached me and told me some changes had opened up a few male roles. He wanted me to fill one of them if I was willing. Mind you, I had never acted on stage. I used to sit and watch my friends in high school, awed at their courage. I never thought I could do the same, but George had me cornered.

That’s how I ended up on that stage playing Mr. Macy. I loved it. Imagine that – I enjoyed the spotlight! Some nice words of encouragement from friends led me to try out for “Lost in Yonkers” at Hanover Little Theatre a few months later. Now I can’t imagine now helping out for a production.

I bring all of this up because the Little Theatre will hold auditions for the upcoming show “Sex Please, We’re Sixty” on Wednesday from 7-9 at the theatre on Blooming Grove Road. Maybe this can be your Mr. George moment.

I see complaints online and hear them in person about the dearth of things to do in Hanover. I know that these are trumped up because of the activities I choose to do. Not blowing my own horn, just pointing out that if you think Hanover is “comatose,”  why don’t you come to a organization celebrating its 64th year and get on stage. We always need new people.

If that’s not your cup of tea, we have three performances of “Nunsense” left this week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. You can buy tickets online right now. Support those who work so hard to make sure we all have things to do in our town.

Or you can sit at home talking about how no one ever does anything good and Hanover is so boring. Your choice.

Brian September 18, 2012 Leave A Comment Permalink

Chalk It Up to Love

“I think there’s something very romantic about people deciding to be in love with their own small town.” – Leslie Knope

What I consider the best show on television – Parks and Recreation closed out its fourth season last night. The quote above did not come from this episode, but from an earlier one. Regardless, I just love the way Leslie Knope feels about Pawnee, Ind. I don’t have that same passion – no one does – but with the spring looming, the quote makes sense to so many of us in Hanover.

For me, tomorrow kind of kicks off the big season for local fun. The second annual Chalk It Up event will fill downtown with all kinds of fun art which (weather permitting) will stick around for a while. The day does nothing more than give people an excuse to come downtown and enjoy themselves.

But those who take part shouldn’t limit themselves to creativity. Get a bite to eat downtown. Go shopping. Stop by the show at the Hanover Area Arts Guild. Just walk around and see what’s new since the last time you visited. You don’t necessarily have to fall in love with the place, but show it some love.

As for me, I’m volunteering for a while to give Main Street Hanover a hand. You don’t want to see me draw. Trust me.

Sitting This One Out

Today, I have not practiced what I preach. I did not support my community and stayed home from the Hanover Chili Cookoff. I don’t have a really good reason. When push came to shove, I just didn’t feel like going.

That’s the risk of an event which has grown in popularity like the cookoff. It’s a little sticky outside, and I just dreaded heading over to Good Field to sweat amongst the other 10,000 or so attendees. Plus, I hadn’t bought a ticket, and I know what that mess is – it’s hard to make that a fast transaction when you have that many people. Then there’s the fact that, if I drove, I would have to watch my alcohol intake, and that’s no fun. I’m full of excuses.

So I didn’t go to support the people I know working at the Main Street Hanover booth or anyone else I may have known taking part. All of this is not unusual – the last time I went was two years ago, and that ended a long streak of missed cookoffs. A lot of times we have an event on Labor Day Sunday. The other years, I had my excuse list ready.

But I still plan on helping even though I didn’t fill myself with chili and beer (to my wife’s celebration, I am sure). The great thing about the cookoff is how it supports local charities. So instead of ponying up at the gate, I’ll join the Friends of the Library here in town ($10 or up for memberships) and get some of the things they need over at the Hanover Area Council of Churches the next time I go to the store.

I’ll also make a mental note to do these kinds of things more often instead of just when I feel guilty.

Brian September 4, 2011 Leave A Comment Permalink

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